The 2015/6 Australian cyclocross championships were held at Essendon Fields last weekend. Here at Curve Cycling we're lucky enough to support some of the sport's best; including Lisa Jacobs (2013-15 Australian CX Champ), Chris Jongewaard (2014 Australian CX Champ and 6 x Australian MTB Champ), Allan Iacuone (2013 Australian CX Champ, 1993 Australian Road Champ) and Adrian Jackson (2004 World MTB Orienteering Champ and multiple CX Elite Race Winner) It’s an absolute pleasure to interact with them and have them winning on our wheels. Read all about the race and our CX crew.
Despite a long European heritage, cyclocross is still in its infancy in Australia but it's growing fast. Australian cyclocross is probably only four or five years old and like a toddler it can be messy, often loud and always unpredictable. The Fields of Joy course was worthy of a national title race. It incorporated muddy corners, a double sandpit, a staircase climb, a terribly steep grassy pinch climb and elements that mimic parts of the 2016 world championships course in Belgium. The course sits on the side of a windy hill where spectators can see and interact with all the action that unfolds.
In the women's event, Lisa Jacobs (Rapha-Focus) reminded us of what it means to be a true champion. She dealt with the stresses of injury in the weeks leading up to the event, managed the weight of expectation (Lisa has never lost a national cyclocross title) and got the job done on day. Her determination was evident in the the first corner; 3rd or 4th wheel coming in and then somehow managing ride around everyone to pop out in front. The race itself was tight early on, but Lisa settled in to a good pace and began to gap the field. It was awesome to see many of the women riding the steep pinch-climb, encouraged by a screaming, watt-lusting crowd. Lisa managed to ride it with a 42 tooth front chainring - surely that qualifies for some sort of powerlifting record? After six laps, the gap continued to grow and it was a comprehensive victory for Lisa. It was her third national cyclocross title.
The men's event was aggressive from the start. Some jostling in the early turns was just a preamble for what was to come, but it wasn't long before reigning Australian champion, Chris Jongewaard (Whippet's Workshop) and Paul van der Ploeg (Giant) edged ahead of the field.
The race became tactical. For a couple of laps, Paul dropped some unbelievable Watt-bombs on the pinch climb, putting on a show for the rowdy crowd, stealing a few seconds from Chris with each ascent. Somehow Chris managed to get back on and the pace settled once again. Later on, a big push from Chris saw him establish a small but handy gap, but that was wiped out instantly when he dirt-napped after a wash-out on an off-camber corner. Back together again and on the rivet the racing intensified through the final lap. A controversial tangle (and push and shove and grab!) in one of the final corners saw Paul escape to victory with Chris rolling across the line in second.
We're huge fans of both Paul and Chris, two top blokes who work hard and ride hard. It was an absolute pleasure to see them duke it out! The tangle at the end of the race sparked plenty of discussion and even some hatred from the usual armchair athletes. Not many people understand what it's like to be racing at your limit with a national title right in front of your nose. It can force people to act on instinct instead of in a way that they would script beforehand. I think Paul and Chris would agree on this and by presentation both were smiling about it all. The fact that the title meant so much to these two elite athletes is a clear demonstration that cyclocross has come of age in this country. One thing is for sure though - the cyclocross marketing team couldn't have written a better story... Tough racing from two hungry athletes with a bit of controversy to finish. More people will come out to watch CX events in future as a result.
We've got to acknowledge the performances of our other team riders. Adrian Jackson finished fifth, (the first dad), while Allan Iacuone (Rapha-Focus) was unlucky to bend a chainring tooth early on in the race, forcing him to run half a lap to get a spare bike. Congratulations to Andrew Low who finished with a Silver in his Masters race on the Saturday.
Both Lisa and Chris chose to ride Curve Cycling carbon tubular rims - The CC 30s tubbies are 30 mm deep and 25 mm wide. Chris rides a 28 hole DT Swiss set, and Lisa uses a lighter 24 hole Tune hubs set.. or we have listed all our rider wheels in this post. Get in touch if you'd like us to build you a set of CX wheels chosen by champions!